Sikh groups concerned after UK police raid homes over 'extremist activity in India'
By Barfi Culture Team
19th September 2018

West Midlands police released a statement yesterday saying they had raised homes across Coventry, Leicester and Birmingham over concerns of 'extremist activity in India'.

The statement set off alarm-bells with the Sikh Federation UK, which says it is worried the raids were targeting Sikh activists on behalf of the Indian government. It is now asking for a clarification from the police.

What was said?

West Midlands police released a statement yesterday saying that detectives were searching a number of properties as part of a West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) investigation.

It added the addresses were in Coventry, Leicester and Birmingham, as part of CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit) investigation in connection with allegations of extremist activity in India and fraud offences.

No-one has been arrested, the police statement added.

A few hours later the Sikh Federation UK released this statement by Bhai Amrik Singh:

"The media reports this morning of houses being raided in Birmingham, Coventry and Leicester mention extremism in India."

"Given the ground reality of extremist violence in India you could easily assume these raids are on properties owned by extremist right wing Hindus linked to the Indian authorities. However, we are concerned with the actions as we understand Indian police officers may be in the UK and could be targeting Sikh activists through British police."

The Sikh Federation UK "hope" the police are "not doing the dirty work of the Indian authorities", they added.

"We understand no arrests have been made and no details have been released on whether those being investigated are Sikh activists. We will issue a further statement once we have more details."

The Sikh Press Association released a note saying: "The Indian state has a history of false statements regarding the nature and threat of pro-Khalistan movements in the UK, with Indian media previously claiming a dossier on Sikh extremism in the UK was handed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015, only for Sikh Council UK to prove no such dossier existed or was ever handed to Cameron, as confirmed by the secretary of parliament."

Why are Sikh groups concerned?

The Sikh Federation UK is known to take an antagonistic stance against the Indian state. Since the arrest and detention of Sikh activist Jagtar Singh Johal (pictured, right) last year, it has stepped up criticisms of India since the arrest and accuses it of targeting Sikh activists.

Indian authorities say Sikh activists in Britain and Canada are funding and encouraging Sikh nationalism in Punjab, but have yet to provide evidence of illegal or violent extremism.

In April, the Indian government and several British Indian groups urged the police to take action after the Indian flag was torn down during Narendra Modi's visit. The UK government apologised for the incident.

Update: One prominent Sikh activist has publicly confirmed these raids related to Sikhs

A spokesperson from West Midlands police told Barfi Culture today they had no response to the Sikh Federation UK or anything to add to the statement from yesterday.

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